UVU’s top 10 moments of the 2016-17 season

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Photo by Julie Ostler

  1. Softball’s Vansway, Frailey earn All-WAC honors

For the third year in a row, senior third baseman Brittney Vansway was named to the All-WAC first team following the 2017 season. Joining her in the postseason conference honors was junior pitcher Lauren Frailey, who was named the WAC pitcher of the year. The awards were a sure sign of progress for a team that nearly doubled its win total from the previous season, going from nine to 16 wins.

  1. Women’s basketball makes WAC semifinal

This achievement was made more impressive by the fact that it came after the tough season the women’s basketball team had. Entering the tournament with a regular season record of 9-22 and a conference record of 3-11, the Wolverines were tabbed as the No. 6 seed. The Wolverines didn’t back down from the challenge, though, upsetting No. 3 seeded Cal State Bakersfield 59-53 in overtime. The quarterfinal victory included coming back from a seven-point deficit in the game’s final seven minutes.

  1. Men’s soccer shuts out #20 Gonzaga

In their second match hosting a top-25 program this season, the Wolverines flexed their defensive muscles to completely shut down Gonzaga, which was then ranked No. 20 in the nation. Not only did UVU not allow a goal in handing the Bulldogs their first loss of the season, it only allowed 13 shots on the night and none of them were on goal. A free kick from Aaron Meyer in the 24th minute created the only goal on the night, providing for the 1-0 victory for the Wolverines. More on this team to come.

  1. Volleyball tears through conference play

    Brighton Taylor (9) jumps high to spike the ball while Nakisha Willden (7) and Kelcee Munk (13) back her up. Photo by Byron Harward

Ok, it might be cheating a little to consider an entire half of the season as a “moment,” but what the UVU volleyball team accomplished in WAC play this year simply can’t be ignored. Entering conference play, the team was just 6-10, having faced some of the toughest competition in the nation. In the first month of the season, the Wolverines lost in straight sets to three nationally ranked teams. The losses were tough, but it gave the team the experience needed to explode in WAC play, going 11-4 in the stretch, including two separate five-game win streaks and losing only one match at home to a WAC rival. The run didn’t stop there, as UVU fought through to the conference championship match before being downed by Texas- Rio Grande Valley in straight sets.

  1. Women’s cross country repeats as WAC champs

In 2016, the UVU women defended their 2015 cross country conference title, finishing the WAC championships with three runners in the top four and four in the top 10. Savanah Berry, McKayla Morgan and McKenzie Preece earned second, third and fourth place, respectively and were also named to the All-WAC first team. Their performances helped UVU to 41 points in the championships, five points ahead of Seattle U in second place. The Wolverine men fell just short of continuing their dynasty run in the conference, finishing second to Missouri- Kansas City.

  1. Dennison earns runner-up for Big 12 heavyweight title

UVU wrestling showed once again that it belongs in the Big 12 in 2016, sending freshman Tanner Orndorff and junior Dustin Dennison to the NCAA championships. Dennison earned an automatic bid to the national stage by becoming the first Wolverine to wrestle for the Big 12 heavyweight title. He also reached the title match through a pair of impressive victories in the Big 12 championships over No. 6 seed Brandon Tribble from Wyoming and No. 2 seed Ross Larson of Oklahoma. Dennison ultimately fell 9-0 to top-seeded Oklahoma State stud Austin Schafer, but his names will remain in the UVU record books.

  1. Men’s basketball breaks New Mexico State’s streak

The most impressive victory in the men’s basketball team’s hot stretch to end the season broke a years-long streak in Las Cruces, New Mexico. For the first time in 40 games since January 2012, a WAC opponent walked into the Pan American Center and knocked off the Aggies when the Wolverines came away with an 84-72 victory. The Wolverines recaptured their shooting stroke, hitting 60 percent of their 3-point shots in the second half and stretching the lead to as much as 18 before the Aggies closed the gap a bit for the final score.

Isaac Neilson (22) gives UVU a 17-16 lead over BYU with a 3-pointer at the Marriott Center on Nov. 26. Neilson finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Photo by Jesse Sanchez.

  1. Lynch continues dominance in WAC 10,000-meter

Senior distance runner Jason Lynch made not only UVU history this season, but WAC history, as he became the conference’s only athlete ever to take the men’s 10,000-meter title for four consecutive years. The performance capped a spectacular UVU career for Lynch, who qualified to represent the Wolverines in two separate events at the NCAA preliminary meet. In addition to the 10,000-meter title with a time of 29:38.75, Lynch also claimed the 5,000-meter conference crown with a 14:04.13 performance.

  1. Men’s basketball’s first ever win vs BYU

This victory has been covered ad nauseam and for good reason. UVU basketball graduated from little brother status in the Beehive State this season, pushing each in-state team to its limits and topping the Cougars for the first time in program history. This game showed the whole package for the Wolverines as they scorched BYU with their shooting, outscored the Cougars by 11 in the second half and showed resilience, taking back the lead after losing it just before the half. UVU also put up a record 114 points by an opponent in the Marriott Center.

  1. Men’s soccer overcomes red card to defeat #20 Washington

UVU athletics’ top moment of the year was also one of its first moments of the year. In the men’s soccer season opener, two top-25 teams met on the UVU campus for the first time in history when the Wolverines hosted the then-No. 20 Washington Huskies. The match was hotly contested when it reached halftime with a 1-1 score, the Wolverines taking a momentary lead off the foot of Paul Hoffmeister before the Huskies equalized under three minutes later. In the second half, everything seemed to be going wrong for UVU when Karson Payton was ejected with a red card in the 50th minute, forcing the Wolverines to play 10-on-11 for the remainder of the match. Hoffmeister came through again just four minutes later, however, capitalizing on a misplayed ball by the Washington keeper to net the game-winner and set Wolverine sports on the right track entering their various seasons.